Levofloxacin is a medication that is used to treat severe and even life threatening bacterial infections. The medication is a synthetic chemotherapeutic agent and is sold under many different names, according to the manufacturer. Brand names include but are not limited to Levaquin and Tavanic. When treating eye problems the drug may be known as Oftaquix, Quixin, and Iquix. This is a medication that should be prescribed and taken with caution as it interacts with a wide number of other medications, herbs, and natural supplements. These interactions increase the risk of toxicity, cardiotoxicity, arrhythmias, and problems with coagulation of the blood. While this is a very effective medication it is associated with some adverse reactions that are quite serious including spontaneous tendon ruptures and peripheral neuropathy. These reactions don’t necessarily surface until long after the drug therapy has been completed. While these are serious reactions, when prescribed the risks are usually outweighed by the benefits.
Levofloxacin was first patented in 1987 and was approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration on December 20, 1996. The medication was approved for use in severe and life threatening bacterial infections. There is some argument as to whether Levofloxacin is a second or third generation fluroquinolone antibiotic, which is a class of antibiotics used to treat a broad range of bacterial infections. Today the medication is very popular, ranking as the 19th most commonly prescribed antibiotic, and resulting in $1.4 billion dollars in sales in 2007 alone.
Levofloxacin is available in oral as well as I.V. form. In the United States the drug has been approved to treat some very specific bacterial infections. These approved indications for prescription include urinary tract infections, community acquired pneumonia, skin and skin suture infections, nosocomial pneumonia, chronic bacterial prostatitis, inhalational anthrax exposure, acute bacterial sinusitis, acute bacterial exacerbation of chronic bronchitis, and acute pyelonephritis. For pediatric use, levofloxacin has been approved for the treatment of inhalational anthrax exposure only.
Levofloxacin is generally avoided in pediatrics due to the known side effects. While the concern about tendon rupture is a concern with adults, it may be associated with permanent muscoskeletal changes in children. For this reason, most doctors will try to find another course of action before this medication is tried. Generally speaking, levofloxacin is not a drug of choice for any reason in pediatrics and is used very sparingly by many providers even where adults are concerned.
The benefit of this drug, despite its risks, is that it will treat many different bacterium. In fact, the medication is known to treat 20 different bacteria, which means that even if other drugs cannot kill the bacteria, levofloxacin may be able to correct the growth of harmful bacteria. Of course, there are some bacteria that are immune to even this medication, but it is generally a very broad band option where severe bacterial infections are concerned.
Levofloxacin is easily administered because it is available in so many formats. For those that require an intravenous treatment, levofloxacin is a great option. It is also available in oral pill and oral liquid solution, so that it can be taken by those that prefer pills as well as by those that prefer liquids. The medication is also made available in several different strengths that will allow it to be used in the eye. With so many different formats, the drug is a great option for bacterial infections of just about any part of the body. Despite the risks, with so many different formats and being a broad band antibiotic, it comes as no surprise that the medication is the 19th most commonly prescribed antibiotic in the United States.